Exit Interview: What’s next for Tibco founder Vivek Ranadivé?
In early December, Tibco Software officially became a private company through a $4.2 billion buyout by Vista Equity Partners—despite a hiccup in the process that overstated the number of shares outstanding. It’s one of several software makers to exit the public market this year after pressure from activist shareholders.
That same day, founder Vivek Ranadivé officially handed his CEO title to chief operating officer Murray Rode. He’ll remain a director, with a focus on technology direction. “To make something of value and beauty, you need an irritant, and that is my principal role, to be the irritant,” Ranadivé said.
You’ll also see him invest in tech companies focused on using real-time data as the catalyst for actionable insights or services—a common refrain throughout the India-born executive’s career.
Just three recent examples where Ranadivé said he has already played a role: Sensity Systems (smart LED lighting), Pipedrive (sales pipeline management for small companies), and Gametime (mobile apps for last-minute tickets to sporting events). If probably goes without saying that Ranadivé will also spend considerably more time in Sacramento, Calif., where he is best-known as a managing partner for the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball team.
I caught up with the software entrepreneur for a brief exit interview one week after the Tibco transaction was completed. (His remarks are edited for clarity and length.)
What drove the decision to go private?
I believe that in the current public context we couldn’t really make the kind of long-term commitments we needed in order to fully exploit the opportunity ahead, and that it would be better for our customers and our employees to do that as a private company. We also wanted to pivot in certain parts of our business into a cloud model. We wanted to invest in certain products in terms of R&D. We wanted to do certain kinds of deals. As a public company, that was all very difficult to do. I believe that there will be more and more companies that will take this path. Michael Dell did it before me. … There’s a hole in the public markets right now, and [activist investors] are going to drive out really good companies.
Now that the transaction is complete, what is priority one?
Now [Tibco is] able to basically break out business into a high-touch model with a lot of sales and service, and a low-touch model where we do the business in a very cloud-based model. We are able to also invest in products over the long term. We are able to hire salespeople to expand in certain areas.
There are a number of things we can do, both in terms of investments but also in terms of business model that were hard to do as a public company. So, the top priority is really to make sure that we are able to give our customers options in terms of how they want to consume our innovation. They should be able to consume it through a high-touch model or just over the cloud, and try it out. We are able to do all of these things that we couldn’t do as a public company.
Explain for the non-technical businessperson what Tibco’s software does.
Tibco is probably the most sophisticated and well-known and biggest big data company. We are able to look at large, large quantities of data. Not just old data, but new data, real-time data. We call that data ‘fast data’. We are able to look at that and find patterns—you are about to lose a customer, the power is about to go out, you might have a network outage. Then, we can take actions based on that. All of that is what we call a fast data platform, where you can basically look at different kinds of data, connect them, come to actionable insights, and then take actions.
Explain your ‘Civilization 3.0’ concept, which you use to advocate Tibco’s data integration software.
In Civilization 3.0 every business is really a social network on one hand, through its customers, and it’s got perishable inventory on the other hand. Whether you are selling tickets to a basketball game or hotel rooms or hospital beds or consumer electronics or clothes—these [things] all decline in value over time, they are all perishable. So, what you need to do is merge or map or marry that perishable inventory with information about your social network. That is the very definition of the modern business. And, in order to do that, you need to have a fast data platform.
Where do you go from here?
I’m very excited about the next 15 years. During the last 15 years, we saw some change. The next 15 years will bring even more dramatic change. It’s the age where math will trump science, where you will see the extreme rise of mobility. … I believe the next 15 years are going to make the world a better place in a way that no 15-year span ever has. We are going to wipe out many diseases. The world will be lit up with LEDs, we will use energy much more efficiently, big data is going to apply to agriculture, to medicine, to just about every field. I’m hoping that I will be involved with a lot of those companies.
Do you explicitly fund or focus on fast data companies?
I have been investing as an individual, but as time evolves I will probably create a more formal fund to do that. Right now, I invest with other people, and I’ve invested in some big companies. I just see the next 15 years as very exciting years to be in the technology space. At the end of the day, I’m a technologist, and that’s what I love.
This item first appeared in the Dec. 22 edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology. Sign up here.